Injured teen wins first legal step

A TEENAGER who hurled herself from a third floor window to escape attackers who kicked her door in has won a vital round of her High Court bid for £3 million compensation.

A TEENAGER who hurled herself from a third floor window to escape attackers who kicked her door in has won a vital round of her High Court bid for £3 million compensation.

Jennifer Bluett, was a "vulnerable" 16-year-old when she leapt 40 feet onto concrete from the window of her bedroom at The Foyer - a hostel from troubled young people - in Star Lane, Ipswich, on January 3 1998.

She jumped in fear of her life when a group of young people congregated outside her room and kicked the door down, London's High Court heard.

Her counsel, Mr John Cherry QC, described the hostel as "the last place on earth" a respectable parent would want their child to live.

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Jennifer was rushed to hospital in a coma and for a long time only hung onto life by a thread.  Mr Cherry added that her damages claim had been valued at "£3 million plus".

As well as multiple broken bones, she suffered brain damage which has left her memory and concentration impaired.  But she has, in some ways, made a remarkable recovery and had a baby in 2000.

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Judge Mr Justice Poole yesterday gave Jennifer the green light to sue the hostel's "occupiers" and the security firm which had a guard on duty on the night of the tragedy.

But Suffolk County Council is in the clear after the judge ruled Jennifer's claim against the local authority had rightly already been "struck out".

Jennifer, now 22, originally from Mildenhall, Suffolk, is also suing three of those later convicted of involvement in the fracas, but her claim against them is said to be very unlikely to be financially viable.

Mr Cherry told the court Richard Marjoram and Sarah Davy were convicted of causing grievous bodily harm at Ipswich Crown Court in March 1999. He was jailed for 12 months and she was given 240 hours community service.

Joanne Blowers was given 80 hours community service for affray.

Mr Cherry said Jennifer had had "a troubled childhood" and, from the age of 13, had been placed with various foster parents.  After the final placement broke down, she moved into The Foyer on December 22 1997.

The QC said the hostel "advertised itself" as a safe place for young people to "move from dependence to independence" and said it operated a "zero tolerance" policy on drugs.

But he claimed the hostel was "in a state of some turmoil". Night Hawk had been hired to tackle vandalism; misbehaviour and disorder by residents was commonplace and "undesirable" visitors were not effectively barred from the premises.

In the early hours of January 3 1998, after earlier confrontations, a group  of young people congregated outside Jennifer's third floor bedroom - Room 45.  They eventually kicked the door in and the teenager was so terrified she leapt from her window to avoid their clutches, the court heard.

The QC earlier told the judge the security officer on duty that night "was in fact a drunk".  He died in December 1999, with one of his causes of death given as chronic alcohol abuse and liver cirrhosis.

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